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THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



rHE PEOPLE'S 
PALACE 

BY 
^CHEVERELL SITWELL 




Oxford 
Blackwell 



"ADVENTURERS ALL" SERIES 
No. XXII. 




THE PEOPLE'S PALACE 






Iffovmtoi 
ML 

i S£ RJES OF YOUNG PO 
UNKNOWN 
WfAM£. 



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Come my xrictvbs Tls not too late to seek, a^ 

newer worUi. It tn*y he tk*£ tke gulf* *vUI vvaj>k 
u* £<nvti . ... it m*y hz %ve *KjlLI faulk tke K^pjy i>W 
y^t our purpose \\oUU...to saxL beyonbtiie sunsetr. 

Ulysses 



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CONTENTS. 






* 




Page 


Fountains 


. 


7 


Pindar 


♦ 


9 


Li'Tai-Pe 


. 


12 


Brighton Pier . 


. 


13 


Fragment from Sirens 


. 


15 


Outskirts 


, 


17 


Tahiti . 


» 


20 


Barrel'Organs : 






I. Prelude 


. 


22 


II. The Feathered Hat 


. 


25 


The Moon 


. 


27 


" The Mayor of Murcia " : 






L Soliloquy . 


♦ < 


28 


II. The Speech 


» 


32 


III. The Return 


. 


36 


IV. Festa 


» , 


39 


V. The Homecoming 


. , 


44 


Trumpets 


* 


47 


u Psittachus eois Imitatrix ales ab Indis " 


48 


Trapeze'Song from '* Perspectives " 


, 


50 


"Whitsun" . 


. < 


52 






FOUNTAINS. 

THIS night is pure and clear as thrice refined silver. 
Silence, the cape of Death, lies heavy 
Round the bare shoulders of the hills. 
Faint throbs and murmurs 

At moments growing to a mutter, then subsiding, 
Fill the night with mystery and panic. 
The honey-tongued arguings of fountains 
Stir the air with flutes and gentle voices. — 

The graven fountain-masks suffer and weep — 

Curved with a smile, the poor mouths 

Clutch at a half-remembered song 

Striving to forget the agony of ever laughing,— 

Laughing while they hear the secrets 

Echoed from the depths of Earth beneath them. 

This half-remembered song — 
This flow of sad-restrained laughter 
Jars with the jets of youthful water 
Springing from the twisted masks, 
For this is but the birth of water ; 



FOUNTAINS * 

And singing joyfully 

It springs upon the world 

And wanders ceaselessly 

Along its jewelled valleys to the sea, 

Rattling like rolls of drums 

The shells and pebbles down its bed. 

The endless argument of water ceases, 

A few drops fall heavily, splashing on the marble 

A sultan with his treasures 

Seeking to gain the goodwill of his love, 

Pouring before her chains of crackling pearls 

And weeping heavy jealous tears 

Because she will not heed him. 



PINDAR. 

PINDAR asleep beneath the planes. 
Then every Zephyr shook his shoulder 
Struck the pale disks 
Sent silver showers beneath the moon 
To clothe his young tired body 
With those pallid leaves. 

And Pan let from his shuttered hive 

The snub-nosed honey-bees escape — 

A whirr of sound, throb, flutter, 

Feather'flight of birds, 

And on the poet's lips 

The swarm descends to suck his breath. 

Now Pan has learnt his song 

And sings it on the mountains, 

The centaurs gurgling the honeyed waters 

Take hands from lips, retire to caves ; 

Each satyr, ev'ry grape'gatherer 

Can hear their panicked rumblings. 

Now the song lulls ; centaurs breathe again — 

To daylight— sniff around ; then gallop down the hills ; 



PINDAR » 

Beneath the cliffs, poor fishermen 
Hear thunder-thudding of the hooves, and sail for sea. 
They think a hissing thunderbolt will fall about their 
heads. 

And from the cliffs the centaurs hear 
Flutes like bird-flights through the air 
All regular, then flurry of the wings 
As breath fails in the player — 
And fevered pluckings at a harp 
Are birds beneath a canopy of leaves 

Who preen their feathers, strike their beaks 

Upon each quill, re-echoing 

With air-born ecstasy. — 

Could one imprison fire within a pipe of glass 

To catch the surge and shrinkage of its flames, 

I think we'd have in one small pipe 

A man could play on, 

Every plunge through chasms where the winds play, 

Through bell-clear ringing sounds of rain, 

Through painted distances aloof as dreams, 

And every beat their wings make on clouds 

Reverberant as caverns. — 



10 



PINDAR * 

And with these flute-sounds came the floundering 

Of horns that play among the waves 

Like porpoises who roll 

Against the stiffened backs of water 

That the waves flap 

When they break sonorously. 

They say that every sound upon the earth 

Is mirrored echoed in the upper air 

And never dies ; so when the sound 

The centaurs heard from passing galleys 

Were washing like young tides 

Among the clashing cymbals we call stars— 

They broke in foam against the songs 
The sirens sang, and the stifled cry 
Of Sappho falling to her death— 
And still there rose the lyre-strung voice 
Of Pindar fresh, and honey-sweet, 
Rejuvenate in spite of Pan. 

February 11th, 1918. 

NOTE. There are two legends of Pindar. One tells how when 
he was asleep in a wood, whilst quite a baby, a swarm of bees 
settled on his lips. The other describes how Pan stole Pindar's 
song, and sang it on the mountains. In this poem these two incon- 
gruous elements have been combined. It is on the same principle 
that bad Greek wine is improved by the addition of rancid honey. 

11 



U/TALPE. 

(He strolls in the garden after dinner.) 

FULL moori'fruit hanging on the orchard tree : 
Wind shakes them— clash of calabashes 
Full peal of bells— each fruit 
A honey 'hearted rain drop 
Falls pattering on the straight'ribbed leaves. 

I move my eyes then, look around 
Can hear the frost'flowers raise their heads 
In ev'ry dewdrop I have crushed — 
Far back my sinuous footmarks stretch— curved snaiL 
walk. 

Then wink my eyes 

Ah ! only one moon, and that 

As large and round and heavy as an egg — 

In branching clouds — the Phcenix^nest it is! 

With half'fledged Phcenix young. 

Their song now swims upon the air 
Like painted ships that plough the sea. 
The wind'puffs play among the weeds — 
Tree^tops tremble — temple^bells clank in the wind- 
All flute'Sounds in the Phcenix throat. 



12 



BRIGHTON PIER. 

HOW even, flat, and similar 
These strips of plank beneath our feet. 
Unconscious, quite, my weary eyes 
Force me to tread on every joint 
Of plank to plank. 
I seem to lay my road 
Treading flat the boarding as I go, — 
And so I ponder, 

Think still further, further, from me. 
Then thump, thump, thump, 
These leaden feet tread on my mind 
And bring me back again. 
Strips of white trouser 
Shooting to and fro 
Jumping forward, jerking back, 
Gay blazers, skirts of flimsy muslin, 
Squirts of sunshine, flopping hats— 
The planks re-echoing and springing to the footsteps. 
Here, at the water's edge, I stop 
And lean upon the parapet : — 

13 



BRIGHTON PIER * 

There are pierrots dancing in their booth 

Flooded with strong draughts of sunlight ; 

They twist and turn beneath the rays 

Like wisps of faint blue smoke. — 

I cannot hear their song : 

But distant sounds 

Like bubbles breaking 

Reach my ears. — 

Small waves roll gently forward 

Raise their tired heads 

And slowly break to foam — 

As sudden as you turn 

A page over in a book. 



14 



FRAGMENT FROM SIRENS. 

OUR sails were stooping low before the wind — 
Sails, curved like a shell held to the ear 
That sends far down the listener's soul 
The faint far singing of the sea 
Among its labyrinthine valleys and the hills 
That shew the gilded wreckage of such argosies 
As toss their heads above these sudden mountains 
Raised godlike from the level water-plains, 
And azure-rifted chasms ; such ships 
As break their scornful heads 
Against the walls of crumbling foam 
And battlements of far-strung bubbles 
Strewn star-thick o'er the snow-soft sea. 

Our curved prow was steering for the sun 
And lightning-swift we passed across the sea 
Faster, faster, ever faster, faster, 
We flew from speed to speed 
Till looking from the ship 

15 



FRAGMENT FROM SIRENS <» 

I saw the jagged foam and tear^salt spray- 
Left hanging in the sea 
Big grapes for which the sea'god 
Would thank our ship, as with his scaled feet 
He crushed the wine from out the bursting fruit. 
For many a mile behind our bird'Swift ship 
We left great footmarks in the falling snow 
Of waves, and patches of dire blue 
Restrained the knotted whips of spray 
From striking 'gainst our ship — 
A striding horse with every nerve 
Strained for utmost speed. 
And so beneath our prow 
The dashing waves were shattered, melted, 
As clouds upon a mountain side 
Sink lower, break asunder, 
Cling lifeless to the rocks 
Then vanish to a wisp of smoke. 
And all the while the red sun drew us down 
A speck of dust within his giant's draught, 
A speck fast falling down the slanting sea, 
Which he had lifted high 
Its musty dregs to drain. 



16 



OUTSKIRTS. 

THE gold voice of the sunset was most clearly in the air 
As I wandered through the outskirts of the town. 

And here disposed upon the grass, I see 

Confetti-thick the amorous couples, — 

What thoughts, what scenes, evoke, evaporate 

In leaden minds like theirs ? 

Can I create them ? These things 

Which mean the happiness of multitudes ? 

A river bank, grass for a dancing'floor, 

The concertina's wail, and then the darkening day. 

Raise your eyes from ground to trees 
And see them stretch elastically 
Tall and taller, — then look along 
The banks all frayed of the canal 
Where we are sitting, — the water 
Lies like a sword 
With marks of rust 
Where the sun has caught it. 

17 b 



OUTSKIRTS 



Lie back and listen, 

Watch the reflections. 

You see the ripples run among the leaves, 

Brush them aside, like painted birds 

That sing, within the lattices 

The sun's hot bars make with the branches. 

In China I am told, my dear, 

The temples are outlined with bells 

That swing in the wind, or clash 

Beneath the rain'showers. 

So when these ripples play among the trees 

Or any insect drops upon the water 

The rings and circles spread 

Make the whole trees shiver, 

And far down you hear 

Clash upon clash, the ringing 

Of the bells that jangle with the leaves. 

You cannot pierce those distances ? 

Look up I Look up ! 

Night is slowly coming to fill the valleys, 

Drench the hills, and free us 

From the suffocation of the sunset. 

On lands all turbulent with heat 



18 



JTSKIRTS 



The small white houses dancing 

On the rim of the horizion, — like aproned children 

In a schoolyard— are stilled. 

The far-off hills stand solitary 

Made yellow by the sun. 

Beneath them where the river winds 

You hear the spirting of a gramophone — 

A fountain playing with discoloured water ; 

And the strumming of a piano, 

Too far for voice to carry 

Jerks like a mote before our eyes. 

For all the instruments men make 

Play on a public holiday, 

That birdlike we may play upon a reed, 

Or let a nightingale we've made 

Sing among our trees of sentiment, 

December 31st, 1917. 



19 B2 



TAHITI. 

WHEN the hood of night comes on the land 
My ship is rocked by the sunset wind — 
Shrill voices from the town 
Cleave the air like darts ; 
When they sing in chorus 
It were as if steel arrows of the day, 
The showers of rain, rebounded to the dome of air. 
When one alone shouts loud, his jagged voice 
Blares like a trumpet. Banjos and drums 
Beat, twang, and throb hysterically 
Outside the mud-built huts. 

Far off, the sun, caught spider-like 

In its cloud-web, is seething down the sea 

And churns the waves, spatters them with blood. 

Despairingly it waves red tentacles, clutching 

Fiercely each wool-white wave crest, then splutters out- 

Ashore, the tall trees flap their foliage, 

Cut out like stage-trees carved in canvas ; — 

The leaves whip the trees as ropes flick the masts 

Of every salt-fed ship. 

20 



TAHITI * 

Then the hood of night comes lower, and from the shore, 
The Babel grows. 

— I dream that I too, sing- 
Lanterns are lit,— great stairs of light 
Shake in the water ; 
All dank and wet I seem to climb, 
Swaying on soundless gold — go silently 
Above the land, unto the distant moon, 
Alone, and ringing clear as a bell. 

It is a gong, beaten by the drunkard clouds 

Which reel on the horizon, and by the echoing laughter 

of the stars. 
— Even the sound dies now, and the white bubble, 
Drop of milk, seems to feed 
And love whole worlds, turning gold to silver, 
All ugliness to beauty. 



21 



R 



BARREL-ORGANS. 

L PRELUDE. 

IVER-LIKE, this cold quick wind 
Swirls and eddies down the street. 



In the wide level of the sounding sea 

Sudden pitfalls gape : 

Deep'laid traps for ships, 

Great seething hollows, mirrors for the sky, 

Blue deep chasms flecked with red and gold 

Blown with foam, and live 

With salt'Stiff't sails and sailors' bodies, 

Golden treasures and forsaken ships. — 

And in these hungry seething deeps there lies 

The fleeting wild reflection of the skies. 

So in the steady flow of wind 

That swirls and eddies down the street 

All sense and sight 

All sound and sorrow 

Revolve around us here: — 

Fly straight as arrows to this spot 

And fall around us. — 



22 



BARREL-ORGANS * 

The jagged stones are live with sound, 

And one can hear the shuffling feet on them 

Tread low, monotonous, inevitable — 

Vast armies marching down the corridors of Time. 

Oh ! how this music throbs 

And lifts our bodies from the street ! 

Squat chimneys rattle and revolve 

And you can hear 

The weathercocks fly helter-skelter. 

Tall drink'shops with bedizened fronts 

Decked out with golden letters ; 

Inside them voices raised in quarrel 

Seem in an instant to jump nearer 

For the swing-doors with frosted glass 

And bars so thick they seem to guard a treasure 

(Not screen drab ugly drink), 

Fly open with a squirt of yellow light 

Which only shews with emphasis 

The dust and crumbling paper in the gutter. 

A love'Si'ck ballad with a chorus, 

The snarl and tin-tongued tremolo of tenors 

With mellow, even toned basses 

Make the blind and beer-daft beggars 



23 



BARREL-ORGANS * 

Stamp their feet and swing their arms in unison, 
So they forget the cold and hungry vigil for a ha'pence. 
The doors swing to, and there is no no more light. 
The darkness throbs around one like the pulse 
Within a frightened animal. 

On either side stretch archways 

Deep like sleep and hopeless as the sea. — 

A drunkard shuffling his slipshod feet 

Towards his dreary starving home, 

Sings in an even yellow voice : 

Sings of pleasures he has never tasted, 

But sings with full conviction. 

The shop-signs creak and rattle in the wind 

And from far-off a clock strikes (half-heartedly). 

The passage of the hours is uniform ; 

They glide together like the tapping of a drum. — 

Our lives are but as sand within the hour-glass : 

One half is up, the other down. 

So, — like the ever shifting sea 

Devouring misery eats up 

All the inroads of prosperity — 

Just as the fangs of seething foam 

Which race and slide o'er the tawny sand 

24 



BARREL-ORGANS * 

Are quick withdrawn by the immutable tides. — 

The moon, young light-haired shepherd 

Has but to lead away his star-fed flocks 

The wool-white foaming breakers of the sea, 

Then pasture them again ; — 

And when he rests behind those thyme-clad hills, the 

clouds, 
To see the homing stars, striped honey-bees, 
And shuns the sun-god's ravenous embrace, — 
Without a sight of him, the dragon-writhing foam 
To the gentle piping of his wind-stopped flute 
Draws back again. — 

Our lives are short, 
And do we differ but by our degrees of misery. 
We have a solace. — Listen then : 



II. THE FEATHERED HAT. 

OH I how this music throbs and lifts our feet ! 
That day the sky was molten gold, 
The wide fresh-smelling Earth was dancing 
Beneath the glittering sun-shafts. — 
One side, the street was dark, 
As deep and cool as water-wells, 

25 



barrel-organs '* 

The other was ablaze with light : — 

Great bars, feet thick, shot down 

Between the Sun's hot eyelashes ; 

Motors with their rush and whirr 

Shot into heated glamour, then came 

Black and dull, alternately, 

Between these blazing shafts of heat. 

The organ plays a slow and measured waltz. 

I had my best hat with the feathers in it ; 

My boots were thick with dust, 

I held up my skirt and swayed, 

Could not dance, the heat was such. 

I moved so slow, grew tired and more tired, — 

Could think of nothing. 

Then of a sudden came the syncopation ; 
It seemed to clutch my heart, 
My nerves came strung like banjo'Strings — 
I seemed to twang them with my hands and toes, 
My heavy boots throbbed like catapults a-shooting!— 

Reverberate thud of thunder-drops, 
Shafts and chasms of blinding light 
Cavalry gallop of falling leaves 
Crackle and spark of shooting stars. 



26 



THE MOON. 

THE white nightingale is hidden in the branches 
And heavy leafage of the clouds. 
She pours down her song — 
Cascades threaded like pearls, 
And the winds, her many-noted flutes 
Flood forth their harmony. — 
But the Earth turns away 
Swinging in its air and water-rocked cradle. 



27 



"THE MAYOR OF MURCIA." 
I. SOLILOQUY. 

THE shifting sand lies flat and high 
As the stand from which an orator 
Sees each human head, a petalled flower 
Turning towards the Sun its benefactor. 
All this I must destroy ; 
Beating to a metal disc 
Each feeling flower, to carve it 
To the leer of cunning, clutch of greed, 
Or smile of sacrifice. 
I stand here now : 

This crowd it seems my duty to command 
Is still afar off. Yet the sea 
Is here for me to practice on : 
Each wave a hoary head 
Nigh tumbling from its long bent body ; 
Each head with white hair blown by my mouthpiece 
The lean, hard'fingered wind — 
Grown old because its thirsty hands 
Can never span a shape whose bulk 

28 



"THE MAYOR OF MURCIA" * 

Will stop and give it nourishment. 

So the insensate sea strives on ; 

And when the far wine'Stained breath 

Of the Sun panting after his horses, 

Cools the beard and stops the sea^god's conch — 

Then in fury all the mermen 

Thrash their tails and beat their fins together. 

Always clamour, rattling of pebbles, strife, 

And the greedy gaping of the quicksands. 

Now as the shadow of a frown 

On the face of God 

Is shown by the darkening of a waving cornfield, 

So, as night damps the gilt glory of the Sun 

As he stoops like a husbandman to till the Earth, 

Mighty sweat pouring from under his gorgeous turban 

of cloud, 
The whole great Earth heaves a sigh 
And all the blossoms of the foam draw in their heads, 
All the harvest of the unfilled sea folds itself to sleep. 

Then from far off the town 

Raises its domes and spires — they seem 

A troop of elephants with glittering eyes of glass 

And swaying castles on their backs : 

The whole town sways towards me 

29 



"THE MAYOR OF MURCIA" » 

Pouring out its people, 

Who gather in the streets, march on : 

Hubbub throb of drums, 

Clangour and thrash of bells, 

And the measured march 

And stamp of feet ; — 

A crash of movement 

On four short notes : 

Gestures of a marionette 

For either arm and both his legs— 

And trumpet-calls 

Forked and quick as lightning. — 

The crowd all gay with colour 
Blown along the road 
Like confetti when a wedding's over. 
Bars of colour, streaks of colour 
And sharp notes like a rapier's thrust. 
And the fevered clanging of the bells 
Rings out still more and more : 
Cataracts, curved blades of steel 
Falling 

down 

down 
Through ice'Cold caverns : 

30 



"THE MAYOR OF MURCIA" * 

The clash of shields 

When ship meets ship 

And the fighters leap from boat to boat, 

The sea tossing her blue shoulders 

And the spray running salt unaccustomed tears 

Down every eager face : 

The whole wide Earth trembles and totters 

With the stamp of myriad feet : 

The fret and fury of a mighty army 

Following the foe through a level land. 

Swift as Eagles the Saracen horse 

Fled my army through the sun-scorched sand. 

The furious tramping of horses stirred the desert 

Making the sand ring like a trumpet, 

Echoing the hoots, the howls, the heavy stamp of hooves 

Raising hurricanes of dust to hide the stars, — 

Wind-riven curtains of sand 

To hide those whirling dancers from our sight. 

My mind now hovers like a vulture 

Seeing down-stretched before him 

Dim valleys filled with memories, 

High peaks enreddened by the sunset fires 

And gloomy depths, clothed black 

Beneath the coverlet of sleep, forgetfulness. 

31 



"THE MAYOR OF MURCIA " '* 

And now I hover like this vulture 

Swimming 'gainst the star^strewn spaces of the wind i 

Or like a rock stand undismayed 

The peals, the clattering throbs, and splash of foam 

From all this sea of upturned heads 

And bodies all poignant with colour : 

Great waves of sun^touched dyes 

As brilliant, swift, and shrill 

As when the Sun with gorgeous fingers 

Plucks the watery thrill of music 

From the star^high lyre 

That echoes from the clouds 

To touch the Earth all resonant 

With rippling carillons of rain. 

And now I have to speak, — 
Explain the objects we're assembled for. 

II. THE SPEECH. 

" Citizens of Murcia, slaves to these, — 
By my command you're gathered here. 
I see on every forehead lines of care ; 
Each body's bowed and worn with toil. — 
For many years you've laboured, 

32 






"THE MAYOR OF MURCIA" * 

Tilled and reaped your harvests- 
Golden corn and vine'dusters 
Ripened with the sun's red blood, 
And when the burning hours are dead, 
Refreshed with crystal emanation — 
Dew from the hidden stores 
Of water in the Earth's black gaping chasms. 
So in the steady pageantry of years 
You've garnered treasures 
Wealth to deck and glorify our town. 
One part 

Of this, our solemn duty 
You've already done. 
Great girdling walls 
Which circle round the town 
Keep off our foes — a casque of steel 
Upon a warrior's head keeps off all blows 
As lustily as these star'aspiring towers. 
And in the evening the droning bells 
Which call to prayer, re-echo 
From the walls, and peal aloft among the towers, 
As in the forest on a summer's evening 
The tall trees are rudely stirred 
By rush of winged insects 

33 



"THE MAYOR OF MURCIA" * 

Intent upon their honeyed business. 

Our walls, then, rise triumphant 

And we can turn our energies to other fields.— 

The plain here stretches many a mile 

Between the town and tawny mountains ; 

The far hills seem battlements 

Of austere hostile towns — and nearer 

The clouds hang low like beauty 'drugged butterflies 

Above the flowering fields. 

Let us girdle the Earth with our handiwork, 

Bind the blue hills with our strength ; 

The firmament shall know our might and skill. 

Broad roads shall cross the plains 

Cleave the gold harvest at their will 

And clamp the hills down with their might. 

From the high towers of Murcia 

The roads shall seem like fluttering pennons 

Tied to lances pointing at the stars — 

For so they seem, when having climbed the hills 

The roads appear to launch into Eternity.— 

And we will dig canals to bring 

The sea's salt breath into the land 

And heap her shimmering treasures 

On quays deep-laden with the glittering corn'sheaves ; 

34 



"THE MAYOR OF MURCIA" « 

So then with holds replenished 

Our galleons shall sail the seas 

To distant towns afloat above the tawny sands 

Like fleets at anchor — 

And when it's evening 
No sound shall mar the cool canals 
But they shall stretch like weighty drag-nets 
And in each mesh you'll see the moon 
All silver like a draggled scale 
Amid the drying nets." 

Now the thin air was torn with cheers 

And the fiery fountains of the mayor's speech 

Had set afire the gaping listeners j 

The swirling smoke of words 

Had blinded every citizen 

To sober hard reality. — 

Great thoughts, those striding bridges 

Athwart the crystal chasms of our dreams, 

Seemed like accomplished facts 

And on the prancing horses of ambition 

Each conscience leaps the river 

That runs between the thought and fact accomplished. 



35 C2 



"THE MAYOR OF MURCIA" A 

III THE RETURN. 

Look ! Here come 

The trumpet 

-ers who stab 

The air 

With stinging 

Blasts from 

Every brazen throat. 

And after them 

The drummers rolling 

Of their drums 

Until they catch an echo 

From distant dome, blue hill, or whispering tree. 

Think of all the tearing grinding movements irresistible 
Rattling of rain that splashes 
From rock hard ground 
And drips from leaves 
That shake together — 
One vast swing like pealing bells — 
And all the rolling of the sea 
Whipped by the wind's salt lashes— 
And through this hubbub roar 

36 



'THE MAYOR OF MURCIA" « 

The MAYOR 

In his new motor 

Shoots like an arrow ; 

While thick darkness lowers on the land. 

And so the winds, giant gods, 

Must hasten home from where 

Above the foanvflecked sea 

They feed their ragged cloud-flocks— 

And in their haste they loosen from their shoulders 

The heavy baskets filled with fruits 

They have gathered in the day, 

And, careless, drop them by the river 

That runs through Murcia. 

On either side there stand 

The city's clustering domes— 

Blood'pulsed fruits 

From out these copious baskets 

And fast these fruits now stain the sky, 

With fierce ensanguined hues. 

The while the spires 

Re-echo with the fevered clanging of the bells — 

Those steel'Strong tongues the gods have given them. 

And now I fear 
The moon will give 

37 






"THE MAYOR OF MURCIA" 



A show of sentiment, 

And splash the land 

With her maternal milk, 

Whilst we beneath the walls 

Let pass the dignitaries— 

And every brick 

This arch is made from 

Is like a honeycomb 

Replete with sound, 

Till, like a sea, 

We hear our voices 

Break above us, 

Then reecho — 

Small ripples lapping 

The gold shores of all these honey'Cells— 

The bricks above us. 

Bright torches dance like motes 

In the broad moonbeams — 

And in the tufted trees 

Like wooden toys 

The nightingales begin to creak 

Their laboured song 

Grinding out run by run each spray, 

38 



" THE MAYOR OF MURCIA " * 

Till, wings relapsed, 

They stare in vacancy 

And listen to their neighbours. 

IV. THE FESTA. 

The smoke from our torches 

Hung heavy in the square — 

An instant's pause — a slight fatigue — 

An old man with a white moustache 

Stooped to his bootlace — 

The first firework flew, 

Rockets fell like falling fruit 

Through the cloud'lattice— 

Striking the bars at the second bang. 

Chains of light slid on the wind 

Myriad'feathered as the Phoenix 

Flying to its home — 

Then the searchlights sprang into the air, 

And played point-blank 

Upon the houses — 

Like fountains lifting 

Attenuated rainbows in the air, 

Carving their crystal bulk to stems, 

Hanging the flowers of water 

39 



"THE MAYOR OF MURCIA" * 

Head downwards in the fleecy clouds, 
Thick leaves to guard them, 
Till the fruit downfall 
Like rain upon the roofs. 

And while the beams 

Are playing on the crowd 

You see all secrets — 

Every soul is bared 

As by a secret window in a room, 

So that the Mayor, who now is on the balcony, 

Might be an insect with its hundred eyes 

Probing the swaying flowers beneath it. 

While below, beyond their heads, 

Black puppets on the end of strings, 

The people dangle on the terraces 

That stretch as taut as tightropes 

All along the cliffs — 

And here and there they stumble 

Try to keep their balance, 

While, like a nurse's arm 

The strains of brass bands keep them up ; 

And all the night gesticulates 

With wooden movements. — 



40 



"THE MAYOR OF MURCIA" 'A 

In band'Stands wreathed with flowers 

The military blare out dance-tunes — 

The brass roars out over the sea. 

Sibilant strings seem syrup 

Floating in clouds among the tree-tops, 

Keeping the drooping acacias to their stems, 

That drop their distilled dew, 

Made fragrant with the honey of their breath, 

Upon the sheen of darker leaves beneath them 

Where magnolias flaunt their skins 

Whiter than any woman's, 

Or pinker, beneath the prying lights. — 

Processions now pour in 

From every side and quarter — 

Music at their head — 

People foam at the sides 

With a fringe of tin trumpets, 

Throwing flowers, 

Waving flags, — 
The churches open wide their doors 
So you can see inside them, 
As into a cake, or the core of a honeycomb. 
The organs boom out loud 
Amid the sugared, marbled splendour, 

41 



'THE MAYOR OF MURCIA" * 

As an old priest quite solemn 

Preaching to young girls who laugh at him. 

Waltzes rush through the air like snakes, 

Dances like flopping birds, 

Bands of guitars twang, 

Mandolines send 

Liquid cubes, close knit with sound 

Through the whirl of striving music ; 

As you hear the hooves of a galloping horse, 

And then, the blows of the rider. 

The whole town sways 

Pouring out it's people 

Who gather in the streets, march on : 

Hubbub throb of drums, 

Clangour and thrash of bells 

And the measured march 

And stamp of feet : — 

A crash of movement 

On four short notes : 

Gestures of a marionette 

For either arm and both his legs — 

And trumpet'Calls 

Forked and quick as lightning. — 

The crowd all gay with colour 

42 



"THE MAYOR OF MURCIA" * 

Blown along the road 
Like confetti when a wedding's over. 
Bars of colour, streaks of colour 
And sharp notes like a rapier's thrust, 
And the fevered clanging of the bells 
Rings out still more and more : 
Cataracts, curved blades of steel 
Falling 

down 

down 
Through ice'Cold caverns : 
The clash of shields 
When ship meets ship 
And the fighters leap from boat to boat, 
The sea tossing her blue shoulders 
And the spray running salt unaccustomed tears 
Down every eager face, 
The whole wide Earth trembles and totters 
With the stamp of myriad feet. 
The fret and fury of a mighty army 
Following the foe through a level land. 
Swift as eagles the Saracen horse 
Fled my army through the sun'scorched sand. 
The furious trampling of horses stirred the desert 

43 



THE MAYOR OF MURCIA" * 

Making the sand ring like a trumpet, 

Echoing the hoots, the howls, the heavy stamp of 

hooves 
Raising hurricanes of dust to hide the stars — 
Wind-riven curtains of sand 
To hide those whirling dancers from our sight. 

V. THE HOME-COMING. 

The houses all are galloping toward me — 

Gymnasts on the tall trapezes of the wind. 

That dome there I 

Like an acrobat tumbling 

From the white bars that the clouds make ! 

That broad arch 

Feet wide apart, 

Like any striding giant 

Comes nearer, nearer, 

Leaps right over me. 

The moon sends down fresh floods of milk 

Tall trees seem hands 

Plunged deep into the clouds 

That hang, fat udders, 

Whence the milk flows down. 



44 



"THE MAYOR OF MURCIA'' * 

Seen against the pattern of broad leaves, 

That the tall trees make, 

The moon might wander in this park 

As free as any animal ; 

And when a sudden darkness comes 

Till the beams shine out again — 

Without a doubt she left her pasture, 

Running in the soft grass, 

Shaking with her horns 

The star'fruit from the sun's gold "orchards, 

Where the dew of his breath 

Lies like a soft bloom 

On the red fruit ; 

And sure enough you see 

A star dart through the sky 

And fall into the smooth sea. 

A window opens 

And a voice calls out my name 

I stumble on the rough stones, 

Feel for my door. 

A piece of paper in the gutter 

Lies provocative. 



45 



"THE MAYOR OF MURCIA" * 

I blow my trumpet at it 
Till it reels into the air 
Floats slowly, turns red, 
Starts spinning, 
Darts like a flame 
Above the housetops. 

April 14th, 1918. 



46 



TRUMPETS. 

WOVEN from the tangled hair of comets 
On the never-ceasing shuttles of the wind, 
Night, thick Tabernacle for the sun, is pitched ; 
And from the deepening gloom 
Ring out the trumpets 
Red and quick as sparks 
Before the vivifying camp-fire of the Gods. 
The blare of a Trumpet is brazen, fierce 
As the culminate charge that decides a battle. — 
Great plumes like clouds wind'riven 
Float behind each fighter, 

And their armour glints and gleams in the Sun.— 
The horses hooves beat loud, insistent, — 
As ominous and dire as kettledrums ; 
The whole Earth's expectant. 
And the fields stretch green^metallic 
As the leaden'plated sky ;— far off 
Small windows, kissed by the Sun's red lips 
Send back a shuddering echo 
To the blare of trumpets. 
The cottage smoke, so stiff and regular 
Goes creaking through the painted air 
And everything is waiting 
Watching in uncertainty. 

47 



"PSITTACHUS EOIS IMITATRIX ALES 
INDlSr— Ovid. 

THE parrot's voice snaps out — 
No good to contradict— 
What he says he'll say again : 
Dry facts, like biscuits, — 

His voice and vivid colours 

Of his breast and wings 

Are immemoriably old ; 

Old dowagers dressed in crimped satin 

Boxed in their rooms 

Like specimens beneath a glass 

Inviolate — and never changing, 

Their memory of emotions dead ; 

The ardour of their summers 

Sprayed like camphor 

On their silken parasols 

Intissued in a cupboard. 

48 



1 PSITTACHUS EOIS IMITATRIX ALES AB INDIS " 

Reflective, but with never a new thought 
The parrot sways upon his ivory perch — 
Then gravely turns a somersault 
Through rings nailed in the roof — 
Much as the sun performs his antics 
As he climbs the aerial bridge 
We only see 
Through crystal prisms in a falling rain. 

March 1st, 1918. 



49 



TRAPEZE^SONG FROM " PERSPECTIVE 

BENEATH the roof now . . . 
. . . Kick once more the gilded balustrade . . . 
. . . Now's your time . . . 
And then you'll be among the flowering trees 
That travel with you in the train ; 
Among the trees, and just beneath 
The creaking pulleys that manipulate them 
As rain is managed by the clouds 
That travel with it over sea and land. 

And in your flight diagonal 
Look down upon your audience- 
Intent upon you, and as you move 
See their direction change, 
White faces sudden blotted out 
Like tears are wiped from eyes — 
(For an instant while you turn)— 
Then full upon you once again. 

50 



TRAPEZE.SONG FROM "PERSPECTIVES" * 

And as your senses daze 
Convert their movement into sound 
A pendulum for ever beating 
With a fevered interval between the beat — 
(This, the movement when all heads are turned)- 
Feel the hot air quiver up your legs and sides 
Surround you quite, like breaking waves 
On sands the sun has warmed. 
Then your pace begins to slacken 
Bird'like you hover 
Long before you light- 
While, once the danger of your turn is o'er 
The band will start again, 
And gently let you down, 
As in a net 

February 18th, 1918. 



51 D2 



"WHITSUN." 

HOW hot the bank on which we lie ! 
The green paint is melted 
On the seat near by 
So that you cannot touch it ! 

Small yellow flowers, glazed white with heat 
That snap like glass when you pick them, 
Grass like a parrot's wing 
Burnt yellow here and there 
By the Sun's hot stare. 

So high this cliff stands from the water 

That the drop itself into the cooler sea 

Makes a faint wind up here — 

Refreshing like cold water drunk from a spring, 

Or the wafting of far music 

On the bird'wings of a cool wind. 

The sea sleeps ever 

Under the Sun's hot trumpet, 

While patches of weed float in the water 

To make the surface darker — 

Where the dying Sun 

Has caught the windows of the town 



52 



WHITSUN" 'A 

You see their glare reflected in the water 

A whorl of quivering sparks 

A crackle in the heart of waves — 

While catspaws play among the weed 

Till the long strands raised on a wave's back 

Shine like wet hair in the Sun. 

One cloud far out, comes nearer 
Takes my soul back to the gray tunnel 
Of every year's hard work 
Till the young year's holiday, again. 

February 28th, 1918. 





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